Thursday, November 10, 2011

THE NEW YORK NATIVE, NADJAWA McCOY

I'm sooo excited to introduce this new feature called "The Native" to TheGlamtrak!!! This series will give you the need to know on some of the hottest cities. The source you ask?! None other than some of my closest friends who I consider experts in everything from food to fashion to travel!

First up for the inaugural post is New York native(and one of my fave gal pals), Nadjawa McCoy (@Nadjawa). I met Naj, while living in the Concrete Jungle and let me just say...to know her is to LOVE her!!! Without further ado, dive in for Naj's NY picks...


LOCAL ATTRACTIONS


The Cloisters (Metropolitan Museum of Art):http://www.metmuseum.org/visit/visit-the-cloisters/
(Washington Heights)
I can't say enough about this architectural dynamo. The Cloisters museum and gardens is a branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It was even assembled from architectural elements that date back to the 12th century.
Tip! Plan a day trip - this behemoth of a museum is a way uptown in Fort Tryon Park.

The Brooklyn Museum: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/
(Flatbush)
A digestible and well - curated exhibit always fills the meandering halls of this hipster magnet, and it boasts one of the best collections of Egyptian art.
Photo Op! On a hot night, take a run through the fountains that adorn the front entrance.

Strawberry Fields: http://www.centralpark.com/guide/attractions/strawberry-fields.html
(Central Park)
The teardrop shaped area of Central Park is a tribute to the late John Lennon and is a peaceful retreat from the bustle.
Photo Op! From the right angle, the Imagine Mosaic makes a great backdrop in the garden of peace.

FAO Shwartz: http://www.fao.com/home/index.jsp
(Midtown)
Step foot in this dreamland and you're instantly taken back to your childhood. Actually- a far better childhood than you could imagine. Sure it's a tourist trap, but there's a reason so many people find this place amazing.
Tip! Avoid weekends and the holiday season when the store tends to be a zoo.

MUST EATS
Vegetarians beware, this list is for meat lovers and their carnivorous compadres.


Traif: http://traifny.com/
(Williamsburg)
I'm a sucker for any eatery with pig silhouette signage, particularly if they prep my plate with bacon broth. Bonus points for the friendly waitstaff and equally yummy brunch menu.
Top pork picks: Strawberry-cinnamon glazed baby back pork ribs, Bacon doughnuts

Qi Asian Eatery: http://www.qirestaurant.com/
(Flatiron)
Intricate decor, inspired drink menu and amazing food. Great for an intimate dinner that won't break the bank. If you find yourself on an empty tank around lunch time, they have unbeatable specials.
Choices for your chop sticks: Rolling noodles, shrimp and chicken dumplings

Mexicue: http://mexicue/com/index.html
(Lower East Side, Midtown)
Who says you can't have the best of both worlds? Mexican/BBQ fusion makes for savory spicy deliciousness.
Feeling froggy tip: Check out the web site for their current food truck location or submit  a recipe to their recipe contest using the seasonal ingredient.

Essex Restaurant: http://www.essexnyc.com/
(Lower East Side)
New York is known for its brunch scene and Essex has got it down. Natural sunlight drenches the loft-style space and if that doesn't lift your spirits, the mimosas will. The waitstaff is always sure to keep your glass full even if you just inhaled your third included cocktail.
Tips to not looking like a Tourist: This place can be sceney, so make sure you have a reservation. Speak quickly, the bartenders and hostesses tend to be snappy. Avoid holiday weekends when the prix fixe prices skyrocket.


NIGHTLIFE


The Griffin http://thegriffinny.com/
(Meatpacking District)
Chic and upscale, don't dare approach the door without the appropriate attire (tiny designer dress) or accessory (hot girl wearing tiny designer dress). Inside prepare for an eye full of delight:19th century decor and some of NY's sexiest singles.
"I'm with them" Tip: The piano room in the back is super tough to gain entry to without VIP status, but it's worth a shot, the room is in a word - incredible.

Brooklyn Bowl http://www.brooklynbowl.com/event/61701/
(Williamsburg)
Sometimes you want to just dance. If you're in no mood to sweet talk bouncers, or empty your wallet purchasing watery drinks, try Brooklyn Bowl for an awesome beer selection and great music for cheap entry.
Tip! : The Bowl Train every Thursday is a night hosted by DJ Questlove of the Roots and is a guaranteed good time.

Cafeteria: http://www.cafeteriagroup.com/
(Chelsea)
The place to be seen at 5am donning smeared mascara and resting your tootsies after a night of dancing. Only in New York is there a velvet rope for a restaurant with attractive people wall to wall. This place has awesome cosmopolitans and some of the best mac and cheese around.
Tip! : Cafeteria is 24/7, so for good food without the line try a week day evening.

Bar 89: www.bar89.com
(Soho)
If you're looking for a nice place to go grab a drink with ambiance, try this attractive yet intimate establishment.
Tip! : This is going to sound crazy, but you have to see the bathroom.

SHOPPING


Cheap Jacks Vintage Shop http://www.cheapjacks.com/
(Nolita)
Where do wardrobe specialists snag amazing finds? The largest vintage shop on the East Coast. Looking for a vintage Fendi bag for under $300? Cheap Jack's is the place for you.
Tip! : Don't be fooled by the amateur website. Cheap Jacks is the real deal.

Brooklyn Flea http://www.brooklynflea.com/
(Williamsburg)
A favorite of the Native New Yorker, the Flea features hundreds of top vendors of antiques and furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles, as well as jewelry, arts, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus delicious fresh food and beer.
Tip! : Get the lobster roll, a steal at $12 - for 100% real lobster.

The Streets of SoHo http://www.sohonyc.com/
(SoHo)
This isn't your grandmother's alleyway Gucci bag deal. Besides being an architectural beauty, SoHo has some of the best street finds in the city. The vendors aren't offering gold watches from suitcases- they're selling handmade jewelry, artwork all incredibly unique and on trend. Where else will you find a street vendor prominently displaying their placements from magazines like SELF and Lucky?
Tip! : SoHo is made for wandering. Take in the sights while you shop.






Be sure to leave a comment if you're just dying to add to the list!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

R.I.P HEAVY D...

Say it ain't so... not Heavy D ;-(  I'm sure we all can bond over our favorite Heavy D songs, although I'm still trying to figure out how at 4 I knew all the words to "The Overweight Lover's in the House", but Heavy holds an extra special place in my memory...

I was 8 years old the day I met Heavy D. My family and I were waiting in the departure lounge for our flight when I spotted him...super excited I asked my Mom to confirm the sighting. Now in retrospect, I'm sure I was shrieking and freaking out so should I have really been surprised when Heavy called me over ?!. He asked me if I wanted an autograph and like a girl that wasn't reading on a 6th grade level (thanks IOWA testing) I handed him my Etch a Sketch. He sweetly suggested that we find something that would last more than 20 seconds. Oh, but it got better...guess who happened to be on the same flight as yours truly...yuuuupppp. After settling in and right before take off...Heavy sent the flight attendant to ask if I wanted to join him in FIRST CLASS!!!! Besides being a bit shy (ye right), I knew that a first class ride with Heavy D was a bit out of my  league...what the hell would we talk about?! I declined and not even 10 minutes later, I saw the runner up girl take 'my' seat next to him...she was a thirsty 20 something year old groupie (more appropriate I guess). What seemed like FOREVER to land (and for me to hang with my new peeps Mr.D), we finally deplane and when I thought the best had happened...Heavy D playfully tells my Dad that I'm the prettiest little girl and that I was flirting with him the whole afternoon. *swoon* I've held that memory near and dear for 20 years...it truly takes a great man to make a little girl feel sooooo important.

Thank you Heavy D for your contributions to Hip Hop...you will be missed.





Sunday, November 6, 2011

PUERTO RICO...the rich port

I'm so excited about my best friend Kai's 2012 wedding...and now that the days are short and cold, I'm super excited about her upcoming bachelorette party (still 4 months away, but a girl can dream, right?!). We've been tossing around a few locations, with San Juan, PR being the front runner. I loooooveeeeee San Juan, like FOR REAL. Let me just list a few reasons why you should consider SJU when you're looking for a quick getaway this winter.
photo by D.Jamaal
1) You don't need a passport....Now tsk tsk if you haven't at least started on your passport application, but in the event you haven't no worries here...Puerto Rico is a US Territory, therefore as a U.S citizen, all you need is your drivers license to get there!


2) Getting to P.R is not terribly expensive...I would even say "cheap". I've never spent more than $250 on a ticket to San Juan (and that was from NY). Delta and AirTran seem to always have $99 one way deals to SJU (so make sure to set up those email alerts). I've spent the same amount going to Miami and let's face it, San Juan has better beaches and lacks the "suspect" crowd you can sometimes find in Miami (think Memorial Day Weekend...blegh).


3) El Yunque National Rainforest! I've probably mentioned that I'm not really the "outdoorsy" type, but El Yunque makes me feel like I'm at one with nature. This 28,000 acre rainforest is filled with trails, waterfalls, rivers and lush foliage. El Yunque is a must...trust me...this from a girl allergic to scared of all things outdoors.
photo by D.Jamaal

photo by D.Jamaal
4) The FOOD;-) Heavily influenced by the Tainos, Spanish and the Africans, the Puerto Rican cuisine is filled with yummyness. Mofongo, Arepas and Bacalaitos are amongst my PuertoRican faves, but there is definitely something for everyone. My last time in San Juan, an American expat clued my group and I into a neighborhood called Pinones. We were warned to only go in the day because the neighborhood is "rough", but being the bad asses we are (plus we had guys: one giant and one military) we took our chances. Soooo happy we did!!! There were stalls on the street side filled with fried greatness...at some points I didn't even know what I was eating. After 15 minutes of intense gluttony, we moved on to a sit down restaurant named Soleil Beach Club. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! We pretty much ate in silence, besides the occasional slurp and burp ;-) Whether it's street food or fancy food...you are sure to be satisfied.
photo by D.Jamaal
Pinones - photo by D.Jamaal
5) Rum ;-) Subway, the freaking sandwich spot, sells Pina Coladas. There is absolutely no shortage of rum in P.R and you'll soon find that there really is NOTHING wrong with starting your morning off with a rum concoction! You can NOT go to San Juan without hitting up the Bacardi Factory. If you've ever been on the World of Coke tour in Atlanta...picture the grown up version. The tour takes you through the process of making rum and the history of the Bacardi family, but for me, the highlight is the two cocktails you get at the end of the tour #DontJudgeMe!




6) The Beach...If you're a water sign like me (Cancers RULE)...you're totally at home at the beach. I recommend Luquillo Beach for families or groups that want to veg out or even picnic on the white sand. Luquillo is about 20 minutes from San Juan city center so you'll definitely need a car, but it's sooo worth it. For those that want to flex those bikini bods, Isla Verde is your spot. Filled with the "pretty people" and backyard to the nicer hotels and nightclubs...Isla Verde is definitely not the beach for the "t-shirt over bathing suit" look (and shame on you if you do that anywhere). Aviators, iPod, Pina Colada in hand and a spf4/shea butter mix to get that perfect tan...nuff said!
Hopefully, I gave you enough reasons to start your research. Per LeVar Burton, don't take my word for it. For the sake of time (sorry "fall back" time change is killing me), my list only glossed over San Juan, but know that the attractions are endless. You can go out to west PR for some of the best beaches for surfing, party at the best reggaeton and salsa clubs, take a day trip to The U.S Virgin Islands, or even spend a few days on the rustic low key outer island, Vieques. With your girls or a boo, either way Puerto Rico is a goooood look ;-)



 
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